Grand View University has had a stranglehold on the NAIA portion of the Multi-National Dual Meet Championships.
The Vikings have won eight straight titles in the event and are heavy favorites heading into this year’s event at the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville, Kentucky.
With wrestlers ranked in the top 10 all all 10 weight classes, including top-ranked athletes in Justin Portillo at 125 pounds, Renaldo Rodriguez-Spencer (157) and Evan Hansen (197), the top-ranked Vikings are definitely the team to beat once again.
While Grand View looks to set another record with its ninth-straight crown in the NAIA division, three other defending champions return looking to take home trophies once again.
In NCAA Division II, St. Cloud State is the defending champion, but the field includes the top six teams in the nation, including third-ranked Nebraska-Kearney, which features Clarion-Goldfield-Dows graduate Josh Portillo, who is ranked second at 125. Upper Iowa, ranked sixth, is looking to move up from last year’s eight-place showing.
In NCAA Division III, Augsburg is back to defend its title after unseating Wartburg at the top of the heap a year ago. Augsburg will have it work cut out for it with all 10 teams in the top 10 are in the field. Iowa teams include Wartburg, Coe, Loras and Luther. Bradan Birt of Millikin, ranked sixth at 165, will be in the field. He is a Dubuque native.
There will be a new champion in NJCAA, with Northwest Tech (Kansas) not in the field. Only one team — seventh-ranked Niagara — ranked in the top 10 is in the field. There are no Iowa teams once again this year.
The women’s division has been split into NCAA and NAIA. McKendree University, the women’s team champion last year, is in the NCAA field, led by Iowa native Felicity Taylor.
Ankeny native Rachel Watters, a senior at Oklahoma City University, will be in the NAIA women’s field.